Michigan State University

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who can use Interlibrary Loan (ILL)?

Current MSU faculty, students and staff are eligible for Uborrow, MeLCat, and interlibrary loan.  Community borrowers may use MeLCat only.

What materials can and cannot be obtained through ILL?

From the holdings of partner libraries, ILL often can obtain books, articles, book chapters, microfilm/microfiche, dissertations, audiovisual material and musical scores needed for research. There is no limit on the amount of requests a patron may place, though during the busy times of the year, ILS staff may limit processing to 10 requests per week. Some materials simply are not available from other libraries or from publishers, including some out of print materials, rare and fragile pieces, e-only resources, unique archival items, or materials for which costs become prohibitive. It is the policy of the Libraries NOT to subsidize the special production of scanned or microfilm copies outside the normal ILL or acquisitions processes.  Also, our policy is not to borrow a print copy through interlibrary loan if an e-book is available.

Can I request textbooks through InterLibrary Services?

With the establishment of Uborrow and MeLCat services, textbooks are more available than in the past, although still very limited.  Please try either of these services first.  If these options do not work, InterLibrary Services will attempt one request cycle to find a possible lender through regular interlibrary loan.  Many libraries do not collect textbooks, and many do not lend them so it is very difficult to obtain these titles.  Please be aware that if a textbook is found for you, the loan period may be too short to make this a viable option in lieu of purchase.  Please take this into consideration when requesting textbooks.

Does this service cost money?

All of the services are free of charge to patrons. The MSU Libraries pays any charges that may apply.

How will I receive my article request?

Most article requests are delivered electronically and posted to your ILLiad account. You'll receive an email when the article is ready for viewing with a link and instructions on how to view your document. Your request will remain on your account for a period of 30 days.

How long will it take to receive my ILL item?

Items borrowed through UBorrow may come in 3-5 business days.  MeLCat items may take between 1-2 weeks.  Please consider delivery time when conducting your research.

Where do I pick up my ILL item?

You will receive an email when your item has arrived and is ready for pickup. You may retrieve it at the Main Library Circulation Desk, or at a branch library if that is your pickup location or if you have contacted us to send it to a branch.  All materials sent to branches will be checked out to you.

How do I renew an ILL item?

There are generally no renewals for interlibrary loan items.  Due dates are clearly found on the bookwraps.  There is a $2.00 a day overdue fee for each item borrowed through interlibrary loan, Uborrow and MeLCat.


Uborrow items are loaned for a period of 12 weeks and there is a 4 week renewal option.  To request a renewal, please e-mail InterLibrary Services 5-10 days before the due date.  If you have questions, please contact us.

Materials borrowed through MeLCat are loaned for a period of 3 weeks with a 3 week renewal.  Renewals can be made through your library account.

Why is my ILL item listed on my account even though I never picked it up?

If you request an item be delivered to a branch library or if you are in a distance program (>50 miles from East Lansing) borrowed materials are checked out to your account before being sent to the branch or your delivery distination and will remain on your account until the item is received by the library and checked in. 

What happens if I lose or damage an ILL item?

Libraries lend us their materials as a courtesy, and MSU strives to maintain good relationships with our lending partners. Please treat all borrowed items with respect and care.  Please return them on time.  Overdue fees will be assessed on your account if overdue.  Overdue fees are $2.00 per day per item.  Damaged or lost material will result in a replacement charge on your account.  The minimum charge is $100 and may be more if the replacement cost is higher.  Any replacement charge will results in a block on your account.